tv Mc Laughlin Group PBS January 12, 2014 4:00pm-4:31pm PST
from washington, the mclaughlin group. the american original. for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. issue one, cristie's -- >> i apologize to the people of fort lee and i apologize to the members of the state legislature. i am embarrassed and humiliated by the conduct of some of the people on my team. >> for four days last september, traffic on the busiest bridge in the united states connecting fort lee, new jersey, to new york city was
paralyzed. not by terrorists, not by decaying infrastructure, not by a natural disaster, the gridlock was engineered by chris christie's deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, bridge et and kelly, the alleged motive, political retribution against fort lee mayor. for refusing to endorse governor cristie's reelection. to demonstrate bipartisan support. in order to build the momentum for a 2016 presidential bid. quote, time for traffic problems in fort lee, unquote. kelly wrote via e-mail to david wilstein, a cristie appointee in new jersey. wilstein answered, gut it. three weeks later, he ordered two lanes of traffic on the bridge closed. the resulting gridlock doubled
the response time of emergency vehicles and paramedics and delaying a police search for a missing four-year-old girl. on thursday, governor cristie fired kelly for allegedly lying to him about her involvement. throughout an extraordinary two- hour news conference, cristie maintained his innocence. justice department prosecutors have launched a probe and the new jersey assembly is holding hearing. wilstein has taken the fifth. >> question, does it question you as ironic that governor cristie, who says he is the one to end d.c. gridlock is entangled in the fort lee gridlock? >> the governor, governor cristie said he did not order this gridlock, he did not authorize it. he did not know about it. he did not learn of the responsibility of his deputy until just a couple days ago. and i think, john, if he is telling the truth, i think he can survive this. but i will say this.
the story strange for a lot of people and if it turns out he hasn't been telling the truth on this, i think he is a politically goner as far as the presidential candidate is concerned. but i think again, if he is telling the truth, i think he can fight his way back from this. >> cristie's defense is that he didn't know what his staff was doing. >> for a governor for a reputation of running a tight ship, a par military operation, it's hard to believe that a deputy chief of staff would order this up and the e-mail says time for the traffic jam to begin, suggesting their earlier e-mail. in fact, there have been over 800 e-mails and texts that have turned over. the u.s. attorney is investigating. this story will continue. i think the press conference that the governor did, the best job he did under the circumstances. i thought, on a human level, it
was rather convincing. he seemed contrite and genuine. but he didn't offer any real facts. and this has been going on for months and his appointees at the port authority resigned in december. there were a lot of questions he should have asked and so if it turns out that he really knew nothing, then that raises a whole other set of questions, how could he be in the dark? this story will go on for a long time and has the potential to unravel his opportunity to become a president. >> he fired his deputy chief of staff. a gal. her name is bridgett kelly. does that save it for him? >> he did a good job this week of standing up, apologizing, trying to take responsibility for what happened. but we have to ask ourselves, chris christie knew it was going on or he wasn't doing a good job managing his staff. and was negligent. that aside, we don't know yet.
now we will find out, this is not going away. we are going to find out cristie knew and how much he knew. but what i think is interesting here is how few republicans have really stood up for cristie this week. it shows that he is not exactly beloved by the party as a possible front runner for 2016 and i personally think that's unfortunate because i think the republican party really only chance right now to win over moderate democrats would be in chris christie. he's the only personality on the front of the party that is appealing to people beyond just the far right of the party. >> what's the best case to get cristie off the hook? >> the best case is exactly what was implied here, that he didn't know anything about it. it's entirely possible. many things that happen in any kind of a state government. that simply do not cross the desk of the governor. that is the best case he has. i'm not saying it's an easy
case for him to make, although i did think in the presentation he made in the press conference that he made, i thought he came across very well what he had to say. it was the best he could do. so, i still think this is not the end of governor cristie, because he is a man of enormous talent and i have to say, i worked with him on another matter and i thought he was fabulous and very direct and very open. >> if he can't pick staff, which is ethical and smart and trustworthy, how could he, as president of the united states, pick a cabin? how could he? do you understand? >> sure i understand. that happens all over the place. at every level of life. you never know everything you need to know about somebody and sometimes you find out there's a rotten apple in the barrel. this is not the case in the past. >> you interrupted mort. >> as chairman of the republican governor's association, what is astonishing, he said one came out and stood by him, but what he aught to do, i think, john,
is he aught to go out this year, which is an off year election and go out and campaign as hard as he can for the republican governors and people running for governor and show he is a good party man and he is a fighter and he can go through this kind of rough hit he has taken. look, every great leader has had some problems on his staff. somewhere, it's a very normal thing to happen. but it does strain that he knew this on hand governor knew absolutely nothing. >> this is abuse of power and this is a federal property, a bridge, and you use it to inflict political retribution. clearly, someone on his staff knew about it. now i think you have to look to the governor and what kind of climate does he set that people think that they should be doing this in his name. giving him maybe some denialability. there will be questions raised
about had his temperment and whether someone who would oversee a staff that would think this was the right thing to do is someone you want in high office. so this raises questions about his personality beyond his being a bully, which people already worried about. >> this is a guy who portrayed as a bully. and here's a situation where he could have been shouting at the cameras and he handled hums with great composure this week. so he's trying to capitalize on this. come out of it as, look, you are trying to take me down with a ridiculous scandal. i'm going to handle it. i'm going to fire some people and show i can lead with composure. i don't think it's all over, but i think he can come out of it well, i really do. >> is it going to unravel further? >> if he has not told the clear truth, i don't think he's got a political future. if it's revealed he really, when it came out in the excellent press conference and deceived people, he doesn't survive as a presidential
candidate. i do think he can pull out of this if what he said was the truth and it's proven be so. >> that's the mayor of fort lee. >> the mayor of fort lee. >> what does he say? >> he had a comment for the guy that did it. i think he was going to -- >> he did not endorse -- >> he didn't endorse him, but wanted to beat up the guy that did it. didn't he say someone aught to get another term for it. >> kicking for a sort of an implied ethnic slur referring to him as a quote, the little certain serbian is going to be unhappy. they didn't get that right. what a bone-headed scheme. >> this damage to cristie, right? and his presidential aspirations. rate the damage a to d. >> i would think it's a 4 or a 5 and again, if he didn't tell the truth. >> 4 or 5 on a 10 scale? >> what do you think, eleanor? >> i think it's serious. there are lots of
investigations going forward. people are going to get immunity. they are going to be telling all and it's again, as pat said, it strains to think that he was in the dark until thursday morning at 8:50 a.m. >> if hillary clinton can survive benghazi, no question, chris christie can survive bridge gate. >> it makes perfect sense. if anything did happen, they would not dell the governor about all of this. they would keep it away from him. i think if, as pat says, if he says is the truth and i can't imagine at this stage of the game it wouldn't be the truth, i think it's a bump, it's not the end of his career. >> don't think so? >> no. >> it happens to be fatal. >> it's fatal? >> well, there you are. put down your newspaper. >> i'm going to put it in the sports section. asked robert gates to stay on as secretary of defense and he appreciates the service that he gave to this administration.
>> mr. gates served the president from 2008 to 2011. in a new book, duty, memoirs of a secretary at war, has written a scathing portrayal of the inner workings of the white house. here's a sample. quote. i never confronted obama directly over what i, as well as secretary of state, hillary clinton, and then cia director, leon panetta and others saw as his determination that the white house tightly control every aspect of national security policy and even operations. his white house was by far the most centralized and controlling in national security of any i had seen since richard nixon and henry kissenger ruled the roost. the white house controlled who gets the credit. quote, the controlling nature of the obama white house and its determination to take
credit for every good thing that happened while giving none to the career folks in the trenches who had done the work offended secretary clinton as much as it did me, unquote. on president obama's commitment to the war in afghanistan, mr. gates writes, quote, president obama simply wanted to end the quote, unquote, bad war in iraq. and limit the u.s. role in the quote, unquote, good war in afghanistan. president obama doesn't believe in his own strategy and doesn't consider the war to be his. for him, it's all about getting out, unquote. commander in chief obama ordered a 30,000 troop surge in afghanistan. but he was quote, skeptical if not outright convinced the strategy would fail. unquote. >> question, what's the morality of sending troops into combat if the commander in
chief does not believe in the strategy as gates claims president obama didn't. i ask you. >> john, i think what's interesting here, actually, about this whole gates situation is that this is such an unpolitical guy. okay, robert gates had a lot of respect by being kept in the defense job. he's an unpolitical guy and here he is now making what appears to be a real political slam of the administration. what's important is that it's a slam that isn't that new. stanley mccrystal brought this up a year ago in his own book where he accused obama. this is a narrative. mccrystal got fired well before he published his book. but mccrystal's argument is president obama struggled to carry the mantel and take ownership of the wars begun by his predecessor. >> i think it's a very unhappy story that what has been said, which is a sense that the part that worries me the most is
that he wasn't really concerned with the national security address. he was just concerned with the political interest of getting out of it. and that seems to me to be the focus that permeated the conversations and that is what upset gates. i think there's a real issue here about how obama approaches national security. >> okay, despite gates criticism on the obama, afghanistan policies, gates writes this in his memoir. quote, i believe obama was right, unquote. question, so gates has some positive things to say about those he criticizes harshly. how do you account for that? i ask you, pat. >> if what gates says is true, the president of the united states did not believe in the success of his mission in afghanistan, there is a real question of morality whether you send 33,000 guys to fight and bleed and die in a cause in which you believe. >> did lyndon johnson do that in vietnam? >> i believe lyndon johnson
believed in the war. >> you do? have you read the history of the war? >> later on, many people i think came to disbelieve in it and some people argue they should have good night out out then. >> he did not believe at the time he sent them. >> we are all operating on excerpts from this book. the entire book is more newance. he was appropriately skeptical and questioning of the military every step along the way and that's exactly what he should be doing. >> that's your reading of it. okay, here's former secretary gates on the then secretary of state, hillary clinton. >> gates describes her as quote, smart, idealistic, but pragmatic, tough minded, funny, a very valuable colleague, and a superb representative of the united states. unquote. but he relates between clinton and obama that he found, quote,
unquote, remarkable. quote, hillary told the president that her operation to the surge in iraq had been political, because she was facing him in the iowa primary. the president conceded vaguely that opposition to the iraq surge had been political. to hear the two of these making the admissions was as surprising as it was dismaying. unquote. so says gates. >> well, he gets it wrong in his book, you didn't get it wrong. he just about gives an endorsement to hillary clinton and that is fine. the fact that she conceded in this conversation that she opposed the surge in part because, for political reasons, if you remember back to that time, she supported the war and everybody was waiting to see how she would react to the surge. the fact that politics enter into these decisions should not be surprising.
what upsets me -- >> tell that to the troops in iraq. >> the surge was about whether we were going to lose the war and hillary clinton, according to gates, said she voted against the surge because it would look better in the iowa caucuses. >> secretary gates -- okay, secretary gates. excuse me, excuse me. secretary gates on vice president joe biden. >> his sharpest criticism is for vice president joe biden. someone he knows has personal integrity, but on policy, biden is wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades. unquote. >> question, is this assessment of the vice president fair or unfair? i ask you guy. >> john, i think actually, i think it is fair. i mean, biden called for iraq to be partitioned. okay. swept under the rug after he
was in as vice president. >> wait a minute, let him talk. >> what i will say is that basically blows my mind that bob gates, who was an a political figure, a loyal operator both to the obama administration and to the bush administration is being bandied around with excerpts of a book. the book isn't on sale yet. excerpts to the "new york times." >> you mean what we are doing here today? >> what we are doing right here, right now. >> he has to know this. he's a grown man. he has to know that they will take out excerpts like this, which are very powerful and very damaging to biden. >> excuse me, from a man who has built a reputation over decades in washington of being fair minded, nonpartisan, effective, an extraordinary man, a role model for people who want to serve in government. >> it's not a bad blow to biden
at all. he pushed back against the military. he pushed back to try to end the war. and i think -- excuse me. i think gates is very disappointing, but as he was the ultimate civil servant and here he is taking shots at a president and conceding in the book that he didn't raise these actions within the administration. if he felt that strongly, he should have spoken up. >> i want to say something. i think the vice president, when he went over to china recently, was letter perfect in the way he handled the situation. >> i agree. >> i'm talking about the mid sea off the coast of japan and china. here's secretary gates on the united states congress. >> quote, congress is best viewed from a distance. the farther, the better. because up close, it is truly ugly. i saw most of congress as uncivil, incompetent at fulfilling the responsibility.
such as timely appropriations. micromanage, thin-skinned and prone to put self-and reelection before country. unquote. >> question, is this over stated, under stated, or right on the mark? pat. >> i think most americans have come to believe that the respect for congress is down in the single digits. he goes after congress in a way he does not go after biden who accused of poisoning the well or anyone else. there is nothing complimentary at all about congress. he said there are a bunch of hypocrites, they grand stand up there. they ask questions for the camera. he said, i almost got up and quit and walked out they are so awful at times and i don't think anybody is going to -- >> are you attacking his judgment? >> i think gates is one of the most able public -- maybe he deserves to be soured on the situation. >> is it as bad as he says it
is? i disagree with you. >> you're wrong. >> no one is going to argue with his description of congress. >> they aught to. >> where i have a problem is he says he quietly sieved and this demeanor that we saw of this calm, analytical person, was all just kind of his front. i wish he had shown some of that. that's what he says in the book. >> if you read his total biography, you'll see how this man is practically all over the world and various connections and incredibly learned. >> i agree with all of this. >> he does fault some of the politicians we have. >> what a surprise that he faults politicians. everybody in america faults it. he was right at the core of it. a man of enormous integrity and he's making these comments. i welcome what he has to say. >> i just laundered the credibility. he showed himself to be another political partisan. >> issue three, unemployment,
911. >> i've heard the argument that says extending unemployment insurance will somehow hurt the unemployed because it saps their motivation to get a new job. >> what i always said it needs to be paid for. we also need to do something for long-term unemployed people and that is, we need to create something new that will create jobs. so what i'd like to do is one, if we extend it, we pay for it. but two, we add something to it that would create jobs. >> three days after christmas, emergency unemployment benefits expired for some 1.3 million americans. the program in effect since the economic crisis began in 2008, provides extended unemployment relief to people struggling to find jobs. oh the coming six months, an additional 1.9 million long- term unemployed will lose their checks unless congress acts. this week, the senate debated a bill cosponsored by democratic
senator, jack reed and dean heller to extend the benefits. democrats and republicans disagree, however, on how to fund the estimated $6.5 billion extended unemployment benefits will cost. democrats propose extending the benefits now. and figuring out how to pay for it later. the 6.5 billion cost must be offset by corresponding spending cuts. one proposal saved $35 billion by delaying the obama care individual insurance mandate for one year. >> question, should unemployment insurance be extended and if so, how should the 6.5 billion cost be funded? mort. >> i think it should be extended. numbers that just came out for december were remarkably low levels of employment, about 75,000 jobs were created, which was several hundred thousand
jobs what people expected. we are in a major unemployment crisis. it's gone on for a long time. these people cannot survive without some additional support and yes, i think we should find some way to pay for it. >> so the jobs report, which is as an unfortunate as you see here. is that going to affect whether or not it's politically impossible to end the long-term unemployment benefits? >> i think we are going to have to find some better answer than we have now. people are running out of long- term unemployment benefits and that's going to put a huge number of people -- >> what is the most disturbing aspect of the report? >> the new report? >> the limited number of jobs and most of the jobs, i might add, most of the jobs that we are creating are part-time jobs. they are counted as full-time jobs. so we have a very weak employment picture in this country and millions of people are hurting. >> 550,000 people. half a million have left the work force in the past 12 months. that's why the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.7.
>> that's right. it's actually much higher because people are leaving the labor force. >> it's a real issue. i think they will get the unemployment benefits extended. it's for republicans, it splits the moderate liberal republicans off from the base. obama knows that. it's the same as the minimum wage. republicans aught to realize they will have real problems coming down the road on this income inequality issue and how they will deal with it. >> it's not a coincidence as they are from the two states that have the highest unemployment rates. and okay, look for a way to pay for it, but this is a program that was called an emergency program, emergency unemployment that started under bush. it was not paid for then and it has been extended when the unemployment rate was lower than it is now. >> i want your opinion on this, eleanor. since you seem to be keyed up on this issue. those long-term unemployment insurance discourage people from taking lower paying
republican jobs. listen to this, eleanor. >> i do think, though, the longer you have it, it provides some disincentive to work. >> question, is ron paul right? i ask you. >> i think that ron paul was right in the first clip that you played where look, he is saying that this is a 17 to 18 billion-dollar a year program. we should look at possibly reengineering it to actually help people figure out how to get retrained and into jobs and not just hand out unemployment check. >> 5 seconds. >> i think our friend here is correct. >> the long-term unemployed are desperate. they are looking for jobs every day. they can't find anything. there are three people looking for every job that is available. you don't take away the band- aid and the health now while you restructure the program. >> horrible existence. president barack obama's upcoming state of the union address will have neilson ratings lower, yes or no?
>> this week on "moyers & company," neil degrasse tyson on the new "cosmos" and our dark universe. >> science is an enterprise that should be cherished as an activity of the free human mind because it transforms who we are, how we live, and it gives us an understanding of our place in the universe. >> announcer: funding is provided by -- anne gumowitz. carnegie corporation of new york, celebrating 100 years of philanthropy, and committed to doing real and permanent good in the world. the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. the herb alpert foundation, supporting organizations whose mission is to promote compassion and creativity in our society.